Tuesday, January 15, 2013

NPP Must Learn To Say “Sorry”!


Feature Article, by Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro.

The NPP cannot eat their cakes and have them at the same time. In raising an issue that they considered fundamental, to which lawyers for the respondents and the court agreed were very important, as they impugn the credibility of the court. After going to town attacking the credibility of the court, they are seeking to leave a potentially explosive matter legally untested and leaving a room for the much talked-about insurgency against the people of Ghana. Even though the NPP does not seem to have the stomach to carry through their objections to the composition of the panel, they are still publicly claiming that they stand by their concerns, and that they “have not changed”.
Some of us thought that the NPP was going to make sure that the right things are done, from the very beginning of this trial to the very end. At least, that was the impression some of us got when the NPP failed presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo announced at a Press Conference, among other things, that:
“We have now put our case before the court, and are also putting the case before you, the people of Ghana. We leave it for the court to judge the merits. But once again, the NPP, through the petitioners in this case, is seeking to deepen our democracy by strengthening the institutions that are mandated by our Constitution to superintend the electoral process: (1) by ensuring that the Electoral Commission is accountable to the people of Ghana, and (2) the Supreme Court is seen by all as the ultimate arbiter of electoral grievances and disputes.” [1]
How can the Supreme Court be “seen by all as the ultimate arbiter of electoral grievances and disputes”, when this same NPP is making serious allegations against its integrity, and at the same time insisting that even though those concerns “have not changed”, they have not got the time to address them, as they are more concerned with the court concentrating on their task of declaring Nana Akufo-Addo as the President of Ghana in an “expeditious” manner? Is it possible to make wild accusations and refuse to substantiate simply because one has not got the time? Even thought the petitioners have expressed the intention not to pursue the objection to the composition of the court, a member of the NPP legal team, Madam Gloria Akuffo maintains publicly that the concerns expressed by the NPP respective to a particular judge “have not changed”. [2]
So, if those concerns “have not changed”, what are those concerns? According to Ms Gloria Akuffo, it was for the purpose of maintaining the sanctity of the judiciary that the NPP requested an in-camera hearing of its objections to the panel of judges hearing the NDC's joinder application. "It is for the purpose of strengthening our democracy that we thought we should adopt the procedure...to be heard in-camera; it is for the stability of this country; it is for the security of this country; it s to maintain the integrity and respect for the judiciary. But if the court - they are the final arbiters - ...think that having disclosed the nature of our objection we should still bring it formally we will respect the court's decision,” she said. [3]

Is it not simply amazing that the NPP insists that their concerns which involve serious issues such as “the security of this country”, “maintaining the sanctity of the Judiciary”, “strengthening our democracy”, “to maintain the integrity and respect for the judiciary.”, no longer matter? And that what matters is simply “an expeditious determination of the petition” in order to make Mr. Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, as quickly as possible? Is the NPP trying to tell Ghanaians and the rest of the world that our Judiciary has nothing else to address, even where its own integrity is at stake, other than declaring Nana Akufo-Addo as the President of Ghana? Apparently, the President-at-all-costs, Nana Akufo-Addo can close his eyes to any principle of fairness, and moral scruple, rule of law, any arithmetic, any judge, any democratically elected President, who seems to stand in the way!

What the NPP is telling us is that they care less about their much vaunted “the security of the state”, “the stability of this country”, “the sanctity of the Judiciary”, etc., so far as Nana Akufo-Addo is declared President by the Supreme Court! Otherwise, they would have taken the time to address those issues, especially as they claim publicly that those concerns have not changed. I fully agree with the views of Mr Kofi Abotsi, who observed on Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile Saturday, that the practice of raising objection to a panel member is a regular exercise in the law courts. And that the main problem however is that the party could have exercised some sober reflection on the matter, before raising an objection:

“What might have changed?” he questioned: “Because you have created a scenario that has been discussed and suddenly there has been a withdrawal, assuming the relationship involved that is being discussed, the relationship hasn’t changed; assuming that there are some serious evidences that have been gotten in respect of that judge, which fundamentally prejudices him as a judge sitting in respect of this matter, has that fundamental scenario changed? I think if the status quo remains then it means that there are even more questions why in the light of status quo you would want to proceed while you feel very uncomfortable with that Judge, and what the effect might be if that judge rise to judgement you find fundamentally problematic in the light of facts that have not been disposed? So clearly there are serious perceptual issues that might have been created, and I think that is what may affect the issue of withdrawal.” [4]

I find it very alarming that the NPP claims it insists on their objections raised, even though they have no wish to contest the case, no matter how important this might be. Is this case going to proceed with the NPP hinting at unsubstantiated objections to the composition of the court, even though their concerns “have not changed”? It makes me wonder how a case that was specifically adjourned with a court order to file a motion, issued after the lawyers for the New Patriotic Party protested the composition of the court, can now go ahead on the grounds of “an expeditious determination of the petition”, despite the seriousness of their objections, most especially considering fact that they claim to be still standing by those concerns?

They argued that the composition of the court, presided over by Justice Atuguba, is skewed against them. Nothing has changed. They still insist they are right to impugn the credibility and integrity of the Supreme Court. There are nine Supreme Court judges sitting on the case. NPP was expected to file a motion to state their case. After storming out of court screaming furiously that they were going to work on their motion, all that came out was a letter declaring an intent “not to pursue the matter”. What does that mean? This is even worse than a simple inability to substantiate a case of defamation. Is the NPP trying to tell the court, they are incapable of executing their order to file a petition, even though they still believe that the composition of the court, presided over by Justice Atuguba, is skewed against them?

Is it a way of saying, “My Lords, you are biased, we insist on that, but carry on judging because we are in a hurry, and we have no time to substantiate our wild allegations!”? Where did they acquire their sense of decency and this type of arrogance? It is very alarming that instead of pursuing their motion in court, the NPP has resorted to media propaganda aimed at undermining the credibility of the Panel of Judges, especially Justice William Atuguba. Only today, Tuesday, 15 January 2013, a group calling itself Militant Patriots of Ghana (MPs) issued a statement which stated among others:

“We, of the Militant Patriots of Ghana (MPs) have been watching with unease the recent turn of events at the Supreme Court where a judge, Justice William Atuguba made comments which can only be described as highly reckless and prejudicial. By these comments, the said judge has left himself no other alternative than to recuse himself from the case involving Nana Akufo-Addo and others v John Mahama and EC. We are confident that, with the benefit of hindsight, Justice William Atuguba himself will have come to the conclusion that his extra-ordinary outburst was ill-conceived, misleading and a serious error of judgement. In that vein he therefore cannot continue to serve as a judge on this matter. If he has any iota of conscience left, then he should recuse himself. The statement that “this country is solid but is breaking down because principles are being chopped down… This is not good” is in bad taste. Such definitive, conclusive and judgmental statements are normally reserved for end of trials and not at the beginning of trials. How can Justice Atuguba serve as a judge in the light of such definitive statements? We find this as a rather highly extra-ordinary turn of events.” [5]

These are not light accusations to be made at the highest court in the land, and to recklessly raise them in court, and claim a lot of interest in its pursuit, whilst insisting on it is the most perfidious thing any plaintiff can do to the stability, and peace of this country, as well as to our Supreme Court. It is not like the sharing of state lands among NPP functionaries and leading members, where one can withdraw without any repercussions. The arguments they advanced cited grave issues and concerns which, according to them, have not even changed, yet they want to brush these fundamental issues aside, and proceed with a judgement! Is it a way of engineering a window of escape into mayhem, death and destruction, should the judgement go against the NPP? They must be made to formerly withdraw and apologize for the attempt to smear the court, or ordered to proceed with that motion!

Withdrawing the allegations and rendering unqualified apologies is something the NPP ought to have done on its own without even being told to do so by others. The reason is simple. It even has a name. It is called “good manners”. You can not accuse someone of murder and then turn around to arrogantly say you have no time to present the evidence when ordered by a competent court to do so! What makes this even worse is that far from an apology, they still insist their concerns have not changed, so they are even unable to render sincere apologies! As Nana Ato Dadzie recently pointed out, an apology is required, most especially after the General Secretary of the NPP, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, had threatened to expose the judge they objected to, which the NDC have speculated to be Mr William Atuguba, with ‘more challenging things’. According to him, the “horrendous” statements made by Mr Owusu Afriyie, moment after the objection was raised in court, should as well be condemned.

Nana Ato Dadzie's observation that the procedures used by the NPP to raise the objection and rescinding it were wrong, makes perfect sense. “You will have to ask the registrar, by way of a letter, to have the court sit and then you bring a formal application withdrawing your objection... what happens to the written order? There must be record that the written order itself has been revoked” How does the court revoke the order when the NPP maintains it still stands by those accusations? I hope they receive a good dressing by the Supreme Court for such an unacceptable behaviour, which contributes more as a threat to the sanctity and the integrity of the Judiciary than their perceived concerns!

I just learned that Nana Ato Dadzie, a counsel member of the NDC that is seeking to join the petition, speaking on Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile contended: “You accused a panel of likelihood of bias and you don’t name the person, you put all nine judges in a problematic position…into disrepute”, and so following the order of the court asking the NPP to file a motion, the proper thing to do, if they seek to withdraw their motion, is to go back to the Lords to to render unqualified apologies to judges at the Supreme Court, especially Justice William Atuguba, for embarking on an action that sought to injure the integrity of the panel to hear the NPP’s petition against the 2012 election results.

“If you’ve changed your mind, the proper thing to do is to go before the nine judges and say, Lord we are on our kneels, we apologize… That is the more honourable thing to do... All the nine judges, particularly Justice Atuguba and the people of this country are entitled to an unqualified apology from the legal team that went to make some allegations of impropriety against the judges to frustrate and delay this trial,” he insisted. [6]

I also like the way a commentator on Ghanaweb, General de Gaule put it: “Their concerns have not been addressed so how can they be allowed to rescind their decision? The only legal basis for rescinding their decision is for them to accept that it was unfounded and not because they want an expeditious hearing. Justice cannot be sacrificed at the altar of expediency. They must come up with a formal objection or accept that it was unfounded.” [7]

This is a serious development and must be nipped in the bud before it germinates to cause trouble in the future. The fact that the NPP insists upon even not apologizing for what could probably amount to a contempt makes the call for apologies even more urgent. In sharp contrast to Nana Ato Dadzie's call on the NPP to apologize for the disgraceful performance, Mr. Faibille, stated that looking at the case the NPP has presented before the Supreme Court, it would totally be wrong for them to make a fuss about Mr. Dadzie’s “red herrings”. Lawyer Egbert Faibille proceeded to counsel Nana Ato Dadzie to remain “focused” instead of trying to offer moral tutorials to his political opponents:
“Nana Ato Dadzie must focus on his work for the NDC’s legal team and leave the NPP to prosecute their case. I think that when a case is before court, it is beneficial to focus on it rather than the mere shenanigans. There is no use and if the NPP doesn’t apologize, what can he do,what can Nana Ato Dadzie do?” he inquired." [8]

“More worrying is the concerns by a section of the public that the intended public education by IDEG and GBA would in lieu of enhancing public knowledge on electoral adjudication, be pouring more fire in the already polarised public discussion of the matter which has already been laid before the Supreme Court, and thereby raising fears of prejudicing the court’s proceedings.

Coming at the heels of last Thursday’s drama at the Supreme Court where the NPP had requested an In-camera hearing after questioning the credibility of a panel member only to turn down an order to state the protestation, it is suspected that the intervention by IDEG and GBA is a ploy, calculated to undermine the eventual verdict of the Court and as a way of preparing the minds of the Public to reject the outcome of the court’s decision.

Even before the dust settles on his quick u-turn from citing reasons they opposed the membership of the panel assembled by Her Lord Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood to hear their election petition, the Ghana BAR Association and the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) have offered themselves to be used as their grey-knight. The two groups heavily perceived to be politically aligned to the NPP has announced their intention to embark on a series of public education under the disguise of sensitizing the public on the mandate of the Supreme Court.” [9]

The painful aspect of it all is that, they all claim to be legal luminaries! As to what they are taking Ghanaians for, only God knows! They must be made to feel so dizzy that they will think twice or more, before they present another vexatious petition and begin to abuse the Judiciary the next time around! They must either substantiate or be made to categorically withdraw, apologize to God and country, and to commit themselves to for ever hold their peace!

Forward Ever! Backwards Never!

For Life, the Environment, and Social Justice!

Nana Akyea Mensah, Ghana Steering Committee, P-AI, Social Media Campaigns | January 12, 2013
SocialMedia@panafricanistinternational.org - Pan-Africanist International - a grammar of Pan-Africanism and its manners of articulation! www.panafricanistinternational.org

[1] Statement: Nana Akufo-Addo on the filing of the Supreme Court petition, From: Myjoyonline.com, Published On: December 28, 2012, 12:22 GMT | Politics http://politics.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201212/99238.php
[2] NPP’s U-turn raises more questions – Kofi Abotsi | Politics http://politics.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201301/99801.php
[3] It is for the integrity of judiciary we wanted in-camera hearing - Gloria Akuffo, By Ghana l Myjoyonline.com, General News | 10 January 2013, http://www.modernghana.com/news/439008/1/it-is-for-the-integrity-of-judiciary-we-wanted-in-.html
[4] NPP’s U-turn raises more questions – Kofi Abotsi | Politics http://politics.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201301/99801.php
[5] NPP group calls on Justice Atuguba to recuse himself, General News of Tuesday, 15 January 2013, Source: Joy Online: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=262120&comment=0#com
[6] NPP legal team must apologise to Atuguba et al – Nana Ato Dadzie, General News of Saturday, 12 January 2013, Source: Joy Online: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=261962&comment=0#com
[7] Comment: NO WHERE TO HIDE, Author: GENERAL DeGAULE Date: 2013-01-14 04:02:18, Comment to: Akufo-Addo’s legal weakness exposed again, General News of Monday, 14 January 2013, Source: The Herald Newspaper: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=262069&comment=8776101#com
[8] NPP Won’t Take Lessons In Morality From Nana Ato Dadzie - Egbert Faibille, General News of Tuesday, 15 January 2013, Source: peacefmonline: http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=262177&comment=0#com
[9] Akufo Addo Election Fraud Intrigues, General News of Tuesday, 15 January 2013, Source: The Republic, http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=262176&comment=0#com